Faced with the phenomena of low
risk awareness and little capacity in communities to cope with climate
uncertainties, the Development Alternatives Group aims to tackle the
complexity of bringing about behavioural change in rural communities in
this region. The group is encouraging the adoption of climate change
resilient farming for rural communities. DA has facilitated the
development of the ‘Bundelkhand Harit Kisan Mandal (BHKM)’- a
farmers’ federation that provides services and inputs right at
the doorstep of the farmers.
Bundelkhand Harit Kisan Mandal
The Sustainable Civil Society
Initiative (SCSI) Project of Development Alternatives (supported by the
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) aimed to improve the
eco-security of rural communities by supporting and facilitating
institutional mechanisms that enhance the capacities of these
communities to adapt to climate variability. Under this project, DA
facilitated the development of Farmers’ Adaptation Clusters based on
low-carbon and resource-efficient agricultural practices. Under this
initiative, resource-efficient farming practices were encouraged by
means of demonstration with intervention to approximately 300 farmers.
The various practices included drip / sprinkler-based irrigation, line
sowing, raised bed techniques, seed treatment, shade net, improved
seeds, breeder seeds, agro-forestry and agriculture-horticulture models.
The SCSI project helped improve farm yield and productivity for farmers
over a period of three years. The Farmers’ Adaptation Cluster was
strengthened to form the Bundelkhand Harit Kisan Mandal that has
registered 1000 members till date.
Farmers in Bundelkhand have
been practicing traditional methods of cultivation that are
inappropriate in the current environment and economic context.
Furthermore, as government efforts remain disintegrated, they are unable
to access quality inputs and thus suffer. They also rely on market
forces and depend on them for decision making leading to poor economic
choices. Recognising the needs of the farming community in the region
and learning from the success of the Farmers’ Adaptation Cluster in the
SCSI initiative, the cluster has been strengthened to form the
‘Bundelkhand Harit Kisan Mandal’. Still in the initial stages of its
development phase, the federation makes available doorstep services in
the form of information, inputs and agri-services for resource efficient
agriculture for its members. All farmers have to pay a fee to register
as members in the federation. All information is discussed and shared
among its members. Several knowledge resource agencies such as Indian
Grassland and Fodder Institute and Indian Agriculture Research Institute
are associated with the BHKM. The services are all fee based. The
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is also supporting
this endeavour by integrating the member farmers into its Farmers’ Club
Programme. This institutionalisation has helped farmers gather
information about how to access more services and inputs through
reliable sources. The Bundelkhand Harit Kisan Mandal also helps its
members establish linkages with the farm input supply and service
providers, technology providers, extension agencies and financial
institutions. Farmers are also provided with breeder seeds, which helps
them get a better price for the crop and extends the coverage of good
quality seed at multiple times.
Agriculture has failed to
receive the attention it deserves in the climate-change policy arena.
For example, there is no ‘work programme’ for agriculture as there
exists for various other issues, under the United Nations Framework
Convention. Attention must be drawn to this domain, to this sector, if
we aspire to achieve food and economic security. This must be done at
the global, national and the local levels.
Development Alternatives will
continue to support initiatives to improve the lives of farmers and
encourage adaptation. This new initiative is demonstrating success as
more and more farmers are keen to access the services and are able to
understand the need to adapt to climate change. The ability to achieve
development outcomes through institution-alisation is also showcased.
This effort is expected to translate into higher economic, environmental
and social returns.